With the Lawyers Weekly Australian Law Awards having been on recently in Melbourne, it’s timely to consider what it is that interests employers most about a lawyer’s CV.
Obviously it will differ for each employer and role but there are core tenets that are common to a successful CV.
Employers like to see longer stints of employment — say three to four years as a guide — and are always wary of short-stay employees, who transfer jobs every 12 months or so. As a guide, work out your average stay with each employer — you should be aiming for more than two years on average.
A good career path that makes sense to the reader is also crucial, so if you have strange moves, gaps or short stints then it is best to explain them.
The quality of your past roles, and the seniority and achievements you had in each, are important, and for firms the role you played in driving work into the practice is more and more crucial the more senior you are. Your reputation in the market or your area is also important, although this may be hard to drive until you become quite senior.
If you want to achieve partnership, either in title or in actual equity, then with most firms you will need to be delivering a substantial pool of supervised work into the firm. If you want to guarantee your success in both good and poor markets, client base is definitely king, and for most firms would trump both awards and citations.
That said, employers are also usually attracted to high-performing employees, although I’ve had explicit instructions not to source anyone smarter than the hiring partner in at least one case over the years (which made it pretty difficult). In terms of demonstrating your technical abilities on paper, best lawyer citations do carry a lot of weight and should be actively sought and retained if possible.
Likewise, it’s my view, and no doubt the publisher of Lawyers Weekly, who organised the Law Awards, will be pleased to hear it, that law awards nights are equally valuable.
Both are recognition, either by peers or the marketplace, that you have achieved a level of success in your area and are a standout in the market because of it. And, for any employer that values the quality of their lawyers, that is a badge they will happily have you wear.